The Big Match Tactical View: Southampton v Tottenham

Southampton v Tottenham
Saturday 12:45,
Live on BT Sport 1

Match Odds: Southampton [2.16], Tottenham [3.9], The Draw [3.6]

Mauricio Pochettino believed he was taking a step up when leaving Southampton for Tottenham last summer, but there isn’t much to separate these two sides at the moment. Spurs are one point ahead in the Premier League table, while both clubs are locked together in the ‘form table’, as well, with three victories, a draw and two defeats in their last six matches.

Great credit, of course, should go to Southampton for maintaining this position near the top of the Premier League table – competing against clubs with far bigger budgets, having lost their star performers and manager last summer. It’s highly impressive that they’re in this situation.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to understand why Southampton go into this match as such strong favourites. [2.16] jumps out as a particularly short price for the Saints to triumph – for various reasons.

Yes, Southampton have a fine home record – the fifth-best in the division – although it’s been less impressive in the second half of the campaign. In their last six home matches, they’ve lost to Liverpool and Swansea and fallen to a goalless draw at home to West Ham, so it’s far from unreasonable that Spurs might turn up and record a victory.

Southampton also have a poor home record at home to the top 10 – only the 13th-best in the Premier League. Two wins, two draws and four defeats in those eight matches is very poor, and Southampton’s reputation at St Mary’s is largely because they’re excellent at demolishing weaker sides.

Furthermore, Southampton have a very poor recent record against Tottenham. Since the Saints’ return to the Premier League in 2012, they’ve lost all five games to Spurs. In fairness, all five defeats have been by a one-goal margin, and a couple have been somewhat unfortunate. Nevertheless, it’s a record that won’t fill Southampton fans with confidence.

It’s also worth considering Ronald Koeman‘s selection problems. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster will miss the rest of the campaign (and much of next season) with a knee injury, and his replacement Kelvin Davis isn’t Premier League quality. Toby Alderweireld is likely to miss out because of a dislocated shoulder, while midfielder Victor Wanyama is serving the second game of a suspension. Therefore, the home side will be severely weakened down the spine, and they don’t possess a particularly large squad.

In fairness, Pochettino could be without his goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, with Danny Rose doubtful and Kyle Walker definitely out. The difference, of course, is the quality of back-ups – Michel Vorm, Ben Davies and Eric Dier are all quality footballers, and therefore Spurs aren’t significantly weakened.

As for the tactical battle, this should be a game based around pressing and high defensive lines. Pochettino’s influence at Southampton is still obvious, and having stamped his authority on Tottenham successfully – certainly in terms of the playing style being what he wants – so expect lots of early tackles, possibly with through-balls being the best route to goal.

In these kind of situations, inevitably quick players are likely to thrive, so it would be a surprise if Sadio Mane didn’t start. The speedy forward has opened the scoring in home matches against big opposition in the shape of Chelsea and Arsenal this season, and if he’s available at anything over [10.0] in the First Goalscorer market, he could be worth backing.

Elsewhere, Southampton might look to attack regularly down the flanks if Tottenham’s first-choice full-back duo are available, but crossing might not be the best approach. Graziano Pelle got back on the scoresheet last weekend but still isn’t in particularly good form.

Overall, I think the standout bet is obvious – Southampton are hugely underpriced, so I’ll definitely be laying them at [2.16].

Recommended bet:
Lay Southampton at [2.16]

The Betfair Trader’s View: Alan Thompson

With just a point between them and only four games remaining after this one, this clash is almost a Europa League qualifier.

After two disappointing performances against Burnley and Villa, Spurs got back to winning ways against Newcastle last week at St James’ Park with a 3-1 victory that saw Harry Kane grabbing his 30th goal of the season. Southampton, despite taking a 1-0 half time lead at Stoke, conceded two second half goals for the first time this season as they lost 2-1.

Away from home Spurs are yet to beat a side above them in the league and they have conceded heavily against such opposition: 14 goals in five games. While Saints don’t strictly fall into that category, they are just outside it.

Southampton have more than exceeded expectations this season already and Europa League qualification would be just rewards for their efforts. When facing the top eight sides at St Mary’s though they have only beaten Arsenal (2-0), losing four of the other five (three of those defeats to nil). Against the top eight sides at home this season Saints have scored four goals (two coming in that game against Arsenal).

It’s hard to trust either side on recent performances and, to be honest, almost anything could happen here, but as the league can only separate them by one point after 33 games, they could be just as close after 90 mins.

I think a scoring draw could be the play – I will be backing 1-1 @ [7.6] and 2-2 @ [18.0] giving dutched odds of around 5.3.